Case Studies: Criminal Harassment

Psychiatrist Successfully Avoids Harassment Conviction

A psychiatrist with a New Jersey metropolitan hospital practice retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after prosecutors charged him with criminal harassment. The charges arose out of a series of communications our client had with the parent of a former minor patient. The parent had expressed a romantic interest that our client entertained in their back-and-forth electronic communications. The communications led to a brief romantic relationship that the parent subsequently abruptly terminated without explanation. Our client continued his texts to the parent, at first expressing his concern but gradually expressing his annoyance and finally his anger. The parent brought our client's unusually frequent, odd-hour, arguably threatening messages to police attention, resulting in the criminal harassment charge. Our Criminal Defense Team obtained and reviewed the messages, concluding that they raised significant questions over whether they satisfied the criminal statute's definition of harassment. We thus prepared for a thorough cross-examination of the complaining parent and a thorough defense presentation for trial. We also guided our client to professional association programs and resources through which he could gain insight into his own conduct to better regulate it in the future. Our client accessed those resources in a productive manner that encouraged us to share our client's personal insights, with our client's authorization, with the prosecution and victim's representative. As expected, that information reached the complaining parent, who expressed her reluctance to testify against our client at trial. The prosecutor agreed to drop the charges.

Dental Hygienist Defeats Cyber Harassment Charges

A dental hygienist retained the Lento Law Firm's Criminal Defense Team after her arrest on cyber harassment charges. The charges arose out of a dispute the hygienist had with another hygienist in the same office. Our client maintained that the other hygienist had stolen our client's boyfriend, whom our client had expected to marry. Our client believed that the other hygienist had no interest in her boyfriend but just wanted to ruin their relationship out of jealousy. When that event occurred, our client had sent multiple angry texts and emails to the other hygienist with photo images of a private, embarrassing, and alarming nature to illustrate to the other hygienist the nature and effect of her actions. The other hygienist had shared the messages with authorities, resulting in the cyber harassment charges. Our client regretted the action but believed that the other hygienist needed to learn about the far more harmful impact of her own actions. We helped our client find a relationship counselor to learn more productive ways of dealing with relationship loss. We also helped the owner/manager of the dental practice where both hygienists worked to make schedule and cubicle adjustments that would reduce contact between the hygienists, and to work with a team-building consultant to improve a poor work climate that had contributed to the relationship problems. We also retained a forensic psychologist to examine the evidence and our client in order to opine on the psychological impact of and motivation for our client's messages and to help jurors assess whether the messages were, in fact, harassing. The prosecutor subsequently withdrew the charges after the other hygienist moved out of town and to another dental practice.

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